By Marcia K. Gitelman
On October 7, 2002 STS-112 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center bound for the International Space Station. The crew had two women in critical flight positions. Pam Melroy, Pilot, assisted Commander Jeff Ashby. Sandy Magnus functioned as Flight Engineer. This was Pam’s second flight as Pilot and Sandy’s initial experience in space. On Wednesday October 9 as they completed their rendezvous with the station, they joined Peggy Whitson who has been part of the resident crew on board since June 2002. In September 2002 Peggy was named the first NASA ISS Science Officer. Peggy is the first resident scientist at the space station. The Science Officer focuses on US research conducted aboard the ISS. Peggy is a Research Biochemist. Pam is a Colonel in the Air Force, and a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. Sandy is an Electrical Engineer whos previous job assignments included working as a stealth engineer for McDonnell Douglas studying the effectiveness of RADAR signature reduction techniques. This is the first time that three women have been on the International Space Station at the same time.
In 2012, as we reflect back on this particular crew of women astronauts, we see that they went on to even greater accomplishment. Peggy Whitson was the first female commander for Expedition 16 on the International Space Station in 2007-2008. While she was there, in October 2007, Pam Melroy was the 2nd female commander of the space shuttle on Discovery (STS-120). With their rendezvous it was the first time that two female commanders had been in space concurrently. Sandy Magnus also served on the ISS on Expedition 18 in 2008-2009. In July 2012, Sandy was the last female to be part of a space shuttle crew for the US (STS-135 on Atlantis).
Marcia K. Gitelman, Author and Pilot; Astronaut Pilot Pam Melroy, Dawn Rochow Seymour WASP WWII, B-17 Pilot 2004